The Contamine-Grisolle is one of the easiest and more popular routes on the Mont Blanc du Tacul's North Face, which is also known as the Triangle du Tacul. The route is located on the left of the triangle, bordering the North-East Face. The lower pitches of the route follow a snow slope with the remainder climbing easy mixed ground.
The Contamine-Grisolle is shown as route D in the following overview photo:
Catch the Aiguille du Midi telepherique up from Chamonix in the morning or start from either the Cosmiques Refuge or Abri Simond bivouac (in winter). The base of the Triangle du Tacul is reached by an easy walk across the Col du Midi.
Descending from the Aiguille du Midi station
Traversing the Col du Midi
Approaching the Triangle du Tacul
Cross the bergschrund and climb the diagonal band of snow in three pitches (50-55°) using belays as required or moving together. The snow slope gradually narrows to meet a boulder at the head of it which must be bepassed to its right by climbing a short rock wall. This is the crux move that gives access to the mixed terrain.
Lower snow slope
Just above crux
Follow the mixed ground to reach a band of snow them go up a narrow ice couloir to the rocky ridge (60°). Follow this ridge to the summit of the triangle.
Close to the top
Close to the top
"Snow, ice and mixed. The guide to the Mont-Blanc Range.", Volume 2, François Damilano, JMEditions, 2006. (A French edition is also available) page 122, Route 201., Contamine-Grisolle, II AD. 350m.
Two technical axes, a few ice screws and some rock protection.
From the end of the rock at the apex of the Triangle du Tacul there are various options for descent, and the best choice will depend on the snow and serac conditions on the NW flank, which can be a bit treacherous at times - due caution is advised!
From the apex of the triangle descend the NW Slope (150m, max 45°), which is directly adjacent to the rock on the W side. Abseils and/or down-climibing may be required. (see route 187. in "Snow, ice and mixed.")
Ascend the North Ridge above the triangle and then traverse to the right into the NW flank of Mont Blanc du Tacul underneath the highest band of seracs to join the Normal Route.
Ascend the North Ridge as far as the summit of the Mont Blanc du Tacul and then descend by the Normal Route.
It is possible to abseil the Chèré Couloir, which has much fixed gear and several in-situ belay stations (especially for the lower pitches). Be aware, however, that this is a popular route and the safety of other parties should be respected. Don't drop rocks, ice, ropes, or similar onto their heads! Double 60m ropes are recommended for the abseil descent.